Insurance fraud can be defined as committing a deliberately misleading act with the purpose of receiving some sort of benefit based on a false or concocted claim. There are many categories of fraud and a recent study conducted by the Insurance Bureau of Canada showed that fraudulent claims cost the industry in excess of half a billion dollars annually.
Here we will focus on the common and dangerous occurrence of auto insurance fraud. Scams pertaining to this area are quite often perpetrated by reasonably knowledgeable perpetrators and can involve unknowing innocent people.
There are many tactics used by these veteran con artists and a few are outlined below.
Tactics used by con artists:
The perpetrator intentionally hits the side of your car. A common place for this to happen is at a major intersection with dual lanes that allow traffic to make a turn in the same direction. It can be unavoidable as an unwilling participant puts trust into the supposed goodwill of another; only to be fooled into bigger more elaborate criminal activity.
Similar to the Sideswipe, a fraudster would give way by waving to a fellow driver to go ahead with merging/changing lanes or even reversing from a parking spot. This would then allow the criminal to collide with the person, claiming that no intention of yielding was ever given.
Swoop and Squat
This accident occurs when a vehicle speeds up (the swoop) and suddenly cuts off another vehicle (the squat) in another lane. He/she may or may not be in on the plan but it effectively forces a rear-end collusion either from the squat or a third vehicle unfortunate enough to be in the flowing traffic line.
Simply put, an actual accident happens, but physical injuries for example whiplash can be grossly overstated with the intent of monetary gain.
Crime and victimization may not be thwarted completely but there are a few steps one can take to increase the chances of not falling into their traps. Your best strategy for avoiding a staged collusion is by taking extra care and being more observant when driving. Do not under any circumstances, tailgate. Driving a reasonable distance behind a moving vehicle is advisable for all conditions. You can also look at vehicles ahead of the one you are following, preparing for any changes in the flow of traffic.
What to do if victimized
If you are unfortunate enough to be victimized in such a manner there are a few key steps and observations you should make to validate the incident.
- If you are not incapacitated or hurt too badly, get the other vehicle's licence plate number.
- Note how many people are in the vehicle, and observe their mannerisms. People who are genuinely involved in accidents will probably not be joking around then act injured when law enforcement or the authorities arrive.
- Always insist on a police report. It will record an impartial representation of what occurred. Ensure that the presiding officer's name is on the report as well.
- Under no circumstances should you give a stranger, whether you perceive it to be your fault or not your insurance policy number or sign any blank claim forms.
Although you may not give much thought to insurance fraud if you are not the perpetrator, it does have a costly trickledown effect to you in the form of higher premiums, court costs and health care. Insurance adjustors may end up denying valid claims, based on the sheer volume of falsifications for that particular injury.
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